Dr Bart Besamusca created an international database on Arthurian fiction in Europe: www.arthurianfiction.org
Marginal Scholarship. The Practice of Learning in the Early Middle Ages (ca 800-ca 1000)

Our knowledge of Latin texts from (late) Antiquity is mostly based on early medieval manuscripts. More manuscripts of the classics survive that were copied in the ninth century than in any succeeding century until the fifteenth. The margins of these manuscripts are filled with annotations in tiny script, adding layers of interpretation to the ancient texts so treasured in the early Middle Ages. Scholarship to date has failed to give these texts the attention they deserve. 'Marginal Scholarship' puts them in the spotlight and presents them as essential for our understanding of intellectual life in early medieval Europe, when the practices of scholarship and learning were formed for centuries to come.

  • Project leader: Mariken Teeuwen
  • Project members: Irene van Renswoude (postdoc), Evina Steinova (PhD)
  • Duration: 2011-2015
  • Parter institution: Huygens ING
  • Funding: NWO
The Dynamics of the Medieval Manuscript: Text Collections from a European Perspective

This cross-European research project studied the dynamics of a number of late-medieval Dutch, English, French and German miscellany manuscripts, focusing on the highly mobile short verse narratives they contain. Characterised by the migration of works from one manuscript context to another, this cultural phenomenon was ideally suited to the HERA JRP theme 'Cultural Dynamics'. In each unique, newly formed text collection new meanings are generated, enabling us to understand the cultural identity of the compiler or commissioner of a manuscript and to investigate how cultural, social and moral heritage is conveyed to new generations.

The comparative, multilingual approach made it possible to determine trans-European characteristics in the organisation of text collections and to analyse how new author and reader identities were created.

  • Project leader: Bart Besamusca
  • Project members: Gerard Bouwmeester, Daniël Ermens, Vera Westra (Utrecht)
  • Partner institutions: University of Bristol, King’s College London, University of Vienna
  • Duration: 2010-2013
  • Funding: EU HERA
Cultural Memory and the Resources of the Past: 400-1000 AD

The Early Middle Ages are the first period of history from which many thousand original manuscripts survive. Ancient literature and scholarship, the Bible and patristic writing have come to us through this filter. This rich material has mainly been used to edit texts as witnesses of the period in which they were written. But it also constitutes a fascinating resource to study the process of transmission and transformation of texts and other cultural contexts. It can shed new light on the codification and modification of the cultural heritage and its political uses, and constitutes an exemplary case study for cultural dynamics in general.

Just as the Carolingian period (8th/9th century AD) has filtered and reshaped the past according to its concerns, so the Modern Age has used and sometimes misused its ancient and medieval heritage.

The project consisted of four interrelated studies:

  1. Learning Empire – Creating Cultural Resources for Carolingian Rulership concentrates on the role of the popes as cultural brokers in the 8th century (Vienna)
  2. Biblical Past as an Imagined Community deals with learning in 8th century Bavaria and with the meaning of ‘populus’ in early medieval texts (Utrecht)
  3. Otherness in the Frankish and Ottonian Worlds which explores changes in attitudes towards aliens (Leeds)
  4. Migration of Roman and Byzantine Cultural Traditions to the Carolingian World, exemplified by the reception of the Historia Tripartita and by Freculf’s Chronicle (Cambridge)
  • Project leader: Walter Pohl (Vienna)
  • Principal investigators: Mayke de Jong (Utrecht), Ian Wood (Leeds), Rosamond McKitterick (Cambridge)
  • Partner institutions: University of Vienna, University of Cambridge, University of Leeds
  • Duration: 2010-2013
  • Funding: EU HERA
Dutch Songs On Line

On 19 July 2014 the results of the project 'Dutch Songs On Line' became available: 53,351 full song texts were made accessible online via the DBNL (Digital Library of Dutch Literature) and the Dutch Song Database. On top of that, 900 song books have become available in scanned format.

The Dutch Song Database (Nederlandse Liederenbank in Dutch) contains more than 150,000 songs in the Dutch and Flemish language, from the Middle Ages through the twentieth century. It contains love songs, satirical songs, Beggar songs, psalms and other religious songs, folksongs, children’s songs, St Nicholas and Christmas songs, and so on and so forth. The main sources for all these songs are songbooks, songsheets (broadsides), song manuscripts and fieldwork recordings. For every song the source is indicated where the text and/or the melody can be found. In some cases one can click directly to the complete text, or to the music, or to a recording.

  • Project leaders: Dieuwke van der Poel, Louis Grijp, Els Stronks
  • Duration: 2009-2013
  • Funding: NWO
Medieval Memoria Online (MeMO)

The MeMO portal aims to help scholars in carrying out research into the commemoration of the dead during the period up to the Reformation (c. 1580) in the area that is the present-day country of the Netherlands. The portal is also intended for local historians, family historians (genealogists), museum curators, teachers, pupils and students, and for anyone with an interest in history, art and culture.

Among other things, the portal contains a database with descriptions, photographs and other information concerning source types that are fundamentally important to memoria research. These source types include both texts and objects. Since the Reformation these sources have been scattered across the world, and they have therefore often become unknown to researchers.

  • Project leader: Truus van Bueren
  • Partner institutions: VU University Amsterdam, University of Groningen, Data Archiving and Networked Services (DANS)
  • Duration: 2009-2013
  • Funding: NWO
The Dynamics of Apocryphal Traditions in Medieval Religious Culture

Commemoration of the past is a central notion to medieval society. In the medieval period, the ritual commemoration of the ‘very special dead’, the saints, functioned in particular as a constructive instrument to build a religious community and to form or reform its identity. The commemoration of biblical saints (mainly the apostles) in the medieval period is central to this project, and more particularly the question how non-biblical (extra-canonical, or apocryphal) narrative traditions constituted main elements in this commemoration, in textual as well as pictorial contexts.

The diverse functions of extra-canonical traditions and their assessment in the Middle Ages will be examined. A collection of early medieval Latin rewritings of the apocryphal Acts of the apostles, indicated as Virtutes apostolorum but previously known as the so-called ‘Collection of Pseudo-Abdias’, serves as point of departure.

  • Project leader: Els Rose
  • Duration: 2008-2013
  • Funding: NWO VIDI